Mac tip: preventing Login Items and Finder windows from opening when you log in

OS X Yosemite (design promo, Finder icon 001)

Like Windows, macOS makes having apps, documents, folders or server connections launch automatically whenever you log in to your Mac as easy as dragging them to the System Preferences → Users & Groups → Login Items section.

Sometimes, one or more Login Items may cause software problems or prevent your computer from starting up properly.

Rather than remove all of your Login Items permanently, here’s how you can temporarily prevent them from opening automatically when you log in, without needing to adjust your settings.

Temporarily stopping Login Items from opening when you log in

1) Restart your Mac by selecting Restart in the Apple menu, or press the Power (⎋) key to turn on your computer if it’s already turned off.

2) Do one of the following:

  • If you see the login screen: If the Automatic Login option is disabled in System Preferences → Login Options, the login window will require you to enter a password for your Mac user account, as shown below.

OS X El Capitan login profile image Mac screenshot 002

Make sure you hold the Shift (⇧) key when logging in, then release it when you see the Dock. This shall prevent your Login Items from loading.

  • If you don’t see the login screen: You’ll be taken straight to the desktop, bypassing the login screen, provided the Automatic Login option is enabled in System Preferences → Login Options.

OS X reboot Mac in Safe Mode

To prevent Login Items from loading when you restart or turn on your Mac, hold down the Shift (⇧) when the macOS progress bar shows up on the startup screen. The startup screen appears after the startup chord plays. Release the key when the desktop shows up.

And there you have it, this is how you prevent both Login Items and previously opened Finder windows from being launched when your Mac boots, without removing any entries from the Login Items preference pane.

OS X El Capitan System Preferences Login Items Mac screenshot 001

Want more tips like this? Check out our complete tutorials archive.

RELATED: 19 useful Mac startup key combinations

Need help? Ask iDB!

Got stuck? Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know at and a future tutorial might provide a solution.

Shoot us your how-to suggestions at